Dear Readers Who Write,
Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV at your service mes estudas. For those whose education has missed out on my coruscating brilliance, I am the orchidaceous creator of that classic of superlative speculative fiction ‘Fatswhistle and Buchtooth’, and the selfless author of ‘The Thinking Quill’ – that work of pedagogical genius you are so eagerly licking with your little pink tongue in order that you may imbibe some insights into the mysteries of the authorial inspiration.
As I was pondering on what I should take for the theme of my next excursion into pedagogy, dear Mumsie thrust open the door of my bijou writing room and peered at me with her piercing raptor’s gaze.
“Shit – it’s dark in here! You should get out of this coal cellar some days, Moons. How can you tell stories if you don’t do anything but sit in the dark all bloody day? I’m amazed you can think of what happens next at the end of each sodding page.”
Thus in her sweet, inimical yet loving way, Mummy gave me the theme of today’s excursion into the deeper mysteries of the art of literature.
Lesson10. The Write Narrative Arc
I suppose the less erudite among you may be unaware of the precise significance of the term Narrative Arc. It is, my little students, the process by which we move our characters from one state to another, or to phrase it more accessibly, the process by which we facilitate change and so tell our hero’s story.
An obvious narrative arc will take a character to his lowest ebb and will remove from around him every vestige of support, succour, or comfort, and then cast him afloat in a sea of his own inadequacy to ascertain whether he will sink or swim. When such a device is utilised, we can expect the sorely tried protagonist to undergo a process of growth and change and to emerge triumphant, or not, in the third quarter of the story.
But we spit upon such oversimplification, we urinate on the shoes of the easy single arc of narration. Strive instead as you put finger to keyboard to create as many arcs as possible on whose multiple streets your characters can walk to their intertwined destinies. Weave, weave, and again I say weave. Let not a sparrow fall on page one of your magnum opus without there being a corresponding tsunami of reaction when that one tiny action impacts on the lives of each and every private soldier who marched to the tune of your fife and drum.
Dream large and write even more elephantine prose. Let the arc of your narrative be as tall as the leaning tower of Pisa, as complex as a FairIsle cardigan, and as unobtrusively essential as a well lubricated condom. When one of your characters is plunging into the depths of their personal Hades, another can be dancing on clouds of delight and fulfilment. Paragraph to paragraph you can twist the emotions of your readers: this sentence despair, the next ecstasy, whirling the cast of your creation through a rapid roller-coaster of writing. Be not like the dull who see in consistency the summum bonum of the story, instead cast caution to the wind and have your characters on their multiple arcs shifting the story as they spin. Does not the very thought exhilarate?
In short, my adoring fans, discard the advice of those who are less than we. Discard the old lies and shibboleths. Take up the banner of the convoluted arc and let us run with it into the ocean of sensuous prose, and swim to the islands of perfection in storytelling and lubriciousness in character building. Let the arcs of your narrative fill the skies with a spectacular rainbow spectrum of socially unacceptable colour. Let the world marvel at the vibrancy of your imagination and the courage of your prose.
Then and only then will you find your own perfect Narrative Arc.
Work tenaciously, mes estudas. And ecrit bon…